The Center’s mission is to identify causes and create solutions that give hope for ADHD and mental illness.

Welcome to the Center for Mental Health Innovation. ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is a common but widely misunderstood syndrome. This web page provides information on ADHD, on our team, and on our research activities.

Why ADHD? The problem

3 Children Looking at a laptop in a classroom

Mental and behavioral disorders are collectively the leading cause of years of life lost to disability in the United States and the world. Oregon is no exception. We rank near the top in rates of suicide, mental and substance use disorders and near the bottom in care access in children and adults. The major reason for the burden of these conditions is that they have two defining features. First, they are common (over 17 million children affected in the United States and some 50,000 in Oregon). Second, they are early developing and persistent. All emerge during the period of development into adulthood, and into neural maturation.

ADHD can include hyperactivity, inattention and disorganization, impulsivity, and emotional extremes, and is one of the most visible early manifestations, like a canary in the coal mine, for a wide range of serious life problems, including:

  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation and attempt
  • Auto accidents and serious injuries
  • Incarceration
  • Severe mental illness
  • Early death due to suicide, accident, or health complications
Child with 2 Fidget Spinners

Educational costs alone are an extra $35 billion per year more for the population with ADHD in the United States. Health care costs are an extra $25 billion hitting families in the United States annually. This does not count lifetime costs as individuals reach adulthood such as under-employment, lost income and lost productivity. These figures show that ADHD is not just a mild condition. Life problems persist and too often multiply with development, evolving into increasingly difficult secondary problems.

Existing medical treatments do provide relief for many if not most sufferers, but this relief has not been enough to prevent these poor long-term results. Part of the reason is that treatments do not cure—they only manage symptoms. Another reason is that existing treatments are difficult to sustain—many patients discontinue them after a time. The Center is actively exploring novel solutions and new paths to discovery for ADHD and the  many associated secondary problems that can result.

Finding solutions

Brain MRI Images on Backlight

Creative solutions are needed, new insights, and new breakthroughs. The Center for Mental Health Innovation undertakes creative and broad-ranging efforts to understand ADHD in terms of individual biology and personality as well as in terms of public health influences like environmental toxicants, poor diet, and health. We utilize state of the art methods to examine brain networks, genetic and other biological signals, and to develop new and better clinical prediction tools. We are supported by a world class team of scientists, collaborators around the world, strong funding partnership with the National Institutes of Health, enthusiastic donors, generous families and youth volunteering in our studies, energetic staff and volunteers, and students and trainees.

This is an exciting time, full of promise. Research is advancing rapidly and even in the last five years, our understanding of ADHD has progressed dramatically. We are optimistic for the future.

Thank you for visiting and please look for ways to help.